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Legendary Entertainment Acquires 'Kennedys' Producer Asylum

Thomas Tull Headshot - P 2012
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Thomas Tull, the CEO of the film production company, makes a rare appearance at an investor conference and makes a big announcement.

NEW YORK - Legendary Entertainment will be acquiring Asylum Entertainment, chairman and CEO Thomas Tull said on Monday.

In a rare investor conference appearance at the 41st Annual Global Media and Communications Conference, he announced the acquisition of the TV studio responsible for various unscripted programming like ESPN's "30 for 30" and Fox Sports' "Beyond the Glory" as well as Reelz' scripted miniseries The Kennedys. Asylum is also working on a feature documentary entitled Happy Valley, focusing on the sexual abuse scandal that recently rocked Penn State University and its football program.

"We will keep the Asylum brand," he said. "They do things that will help broaden our reach."

Tull founded the company in 2000 after raising money from private equity firms. Legendary has produced such films as The Dark Knight Rises, Man of Steel and Pacific Rim. The company's latest moves have come in the television arena.

Legendary earlier this year hired former head of Warner Bros. Television Bruce Rosenblum to head Legendary's TV and digital media operations. Since then, the company has quietly been buying up intellectual property in the television space, says Tull.

"What we try to do is to measure twice, cut once, and if we are going to put meaningful capital behind something, to make sure we have someone behind the helm that will be a difference-maker," said Tull. "I think we are in golden era of television, not only in content but more buyers than there have ever been. We’ll take the same DNA and translate it."

Tull also commented on the recent co-financing, marketing and distribution deal Legendary signed with NBCUniversal's Universal Pictures, which will replace the firm's current deal with Warner Bros., which expires in 2014.

"Comcast is aggressive," said Tull. "They are straight shooters. And if you look at their own growth, it is pretty spectacular. They gave us a bigger sandbox. They have great assets overseas. They have 22 million broadband customers. For a big company, they are entrepreneurial. That fit with our plans."

Tull made clear, though, that Legendary's partnership with NBCU is for films, while its television division will remain independent. Tull says that Legendary recently sold a script to NBC, and that on the television side, it would treat Comcast "like a sister company," but that it was important to maintain that independence.

At the investor conference, Tull also spoke about his company's secret sauce -- the use of data in decision-making.

"The phrase big data gets thrown around and misused," he said. "We’ve quietly put together a data analytics team and an approach we believe will be impactful."